In Kentucky, 50% of adults say they or someone in their household have lost employment income since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.
According to end-of-June survey data from the Census Bureau, the lost income is more prevalent among lower-income households and those with children. Sixty-three percent of households with annual incomes from $25,000 to nearly $35,000 have lost work income, compared to 18% of households with incomes of $200,000 and up.
Jason Bailey, executive director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, said overall, Kentuckians of color are feeling more financial pain.
"Fifty-nine percent of Kentuckians in Black households have lost employment income; 88% of Latino households have lost employment income," Bailey said, "compared to 49% of White households."
If the U.S. Senate allows the $600 a week in supplemental unemployment insurance under the CARES Act to expire as scheduled on July 25, out-of-work Kentuckians will be left with an average of $332 a week in unemployment benefits.
Bailey said in order to get by, more families are already drawing down their savings, selling assets, relying on credit cards, and borrowing money — including high-interest payday loans.
"But those are obviously all strategies that are limited, that will run out, that in many cases can make a family's economic status worse," he said.
Bailey said he believes if families can't count on continued federal and state assistance, more will be driven deeper into poverty, and deeper into debt.
"We're going to be facing a situation where people have borrowed money or will owe large amounts of money for rent, for mortgage. We're going to see more homeless people, we're going to see more crisis," he said. "We know that that affects mental health."
More than 1 million unemployment claims have been filed in Kentucky since the start of the pandemic.